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Coronavirus cases in Nevada rise to four after patients in Clark, Washoe counties test presumptively positive

Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley
Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
CoronavirusHealth Care

Local health district officials announced Sunday that two more Nevadans have tested presumptively positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of COVID-19 cases in the Silver State to four, and asked residents to reconsider upcoming travel plans.

One of them, a man in his 30s, was identified by Washoe County Health District officials after he visited a local emergency room, and is in self-isolation at home. Southern Nevada Health District officials haven’t released any details about the second case, other than to say that the patient is a Clark County resident and their investigation is in the “preliminary” phase.

The Washoe County patient who received a presumptive positive test had recently traveled to Santa Clara County, California, where at least 34 coronavirus cases have been reported as of Sunday afternoon. The man, however, was not displaying symptoms during his travels, Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick said during a news conference Sunday.

The Clark County case, which was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was confirmed by a Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman on Sunday. She said that more information on the patient will be released on Monday.

Washoe County Health District officials encouraged Nevada residents to re-think their travel plans to prevent travel-related cases. Travel advisories already exist for certain international locations experiencing a surge in cases. 

“Given these cases it is important to recognize that travel to other areas domestically and internationally does pose risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission,” Dick said  “We believe that a cautious approach to curtail travel plans will help to protect our residents from possible exposure during travel and will help to reduce the number of travel-related COVID-19 cases that occur in Washoe County.”

The two new cases come just days after local health officials announced the first two patients in the state to test positive for coronavirus — two men, both in their 50s. 

One of them, a veteran with underlying medical conditions, remained in “serious” condition in airborne isolation at a local hospital as of Friday, according to Southern Nevada Health District officials. The man, who was identified through the Southern Nevada VA Healthcare System, had recent travel history to Washington, which has been the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., and Texas, which has had many confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The other case, a Northern Nevada man, had recently sailed on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which has been identified as another locus for the virus. State health officials said Friday that they are monitoring 40 Nevadans who disembarked from the ship on Feb. 21 after a cruise to Mexico.

Dick also reminded the public that not all questions can be answered about each case because of patient-privacy laws. He noted that the family of the first Washoe County patient had been “harmed” by information swirling since that case was announced.

“That’s very unfortunate,” he said. “Nobody has come down with the COVID-19 because it’s something they wanted to do.”

Dick also said the Washoe County health agency expects it will need “millions of dollars” in funding as the coronavirus situation unfolds. The county has been working with state and federal officials on that matter, he said.

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